Risky behaviors behind the wheel tend to cluster, meaning drivers who engage in one potentially risky behavior are often found engaging in other risky behaviors at the same time. That is one finding announced by Lytx, a provider of in-vehicle video systems for commercial and public sector fleets.
In recognition of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Lytx released new information about commercial driving and distraction, based on analysis of data collected by its video telematics system. Among its findings:
While 65% of all cell phone use was hands-free in 2018, up from 27% in 2016, Lytx also found a 13% increase in the overall volume of risky driving behavior involving handheld cell phones during the same timeframe.
Lytx found a 10% increase in the overall volume of events in which drivers using hands-free devices engaged in one or more other potentially risky distractions as well, such as eating, drinking, smoking or using another device.
This combination of distractions magnifies risk, the company said. A multi-tasking driver engaged in multiple potentially risky distracting behaviors has a 100% increase in risk over a driver engaged in one potentially risky, distracting behavior, Lytx said.
Driver cell phone use occurs most frequently at 65 miles per hour mph, the company noted.
Lytx’s client database includes public and private fleets in the trucking, waste, transit, government, construction, field services industries, and more. The company said the 2018 data was anonymized, normalized and generalizable to drivers given the high volume of Lytx event recorders on domestic urban, residential and rural roadways.
The National Safety Council’s designation of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month is an effort to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and eliminate preventable deaths associated with it. Every day, at least nine people die in distracted driving crashes, Lytx said, citing the latest available statistics published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In commercial vehicle fleets, distraction related to cell phone use, eating or general inattention is the second leading driver-related cause of fatal truck crashes, according to the FMCSA statistics, Lytx said.
“There are 6.1 million commercial motor vehicle drivers in the United States, and millions more around the world,” Brandon Nixon, Lytx chairman and CEO, said in an April 30 news release announcing the company’s findings. “We use our billions of miles of driving data to train artificial intelligence algorithms to detect risk, and we use our advanced data analytics to identify risky behaviors and help fleets do something about distracted driving.”
The scale of collected data, including more than 100 billion miles of driving data and 100,000 risky driving events captured by video every day, combined with the company’s machine vision and artificial intelligence technology, enables Lytx to provide fleets with knowledge to help protect drivers and improve driving behavior. The company said its Driver Safety Program has been associated with reductions in collisions and related costs.
“Identifying the underlying causes of risky behaviors and addressing the dangers of multi-tasking are crucial first steps to training safer drivers,” said Del Lisk, vice president of safety services for Lytx. “We recommend managers help their drivers understand the elevated risks around them, especially during peak times associated with distraction. Also, by advising drivers to make their calls or appointments before they start driving, managers can encourage them to avoid giving into these temptations.”
Lisk continued, “One of our clients confidentially surveyed their drivers about their use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Through this survey, they discovered that more than half of all calls to their drivers were initiated by family members—the people who love them the most unknowingly potentially putting them in harm’s way. The company followed up with a program focused on educating families on the risks associated with calling their loved ones while they were driving. This is a great example of how looking for the underlying causes of risky behaviors can uncover important information. These lessons aren’t just for professional drivers.”